Sangstories - Stories of Scottish Songs

Tales of Scottish traditional and newer songs sung by Sangschule of Linlithgow

The Bonny Lassie's Answer


Farewell to Glesca City
And tae bonny Lanarkshire
Farewell my dearest parents
I’ll never see you mair
For the want o money
And for the want o cash
Maks mony a bonny laddie
Tae leave his bonny lass

For I am bound tae go, my love
Where no-one shall me know
But the bonny lassie’s answer
Was aye “no, no”
Aye, “ no, no my love”
Aye, “no, no”
And the bonny lassie’s answer
Was aye, “ no, no”

The Queen is wanting men
And I for one must go
It’s for my life love
I dare nae answer no
O stay at hame my bonny lad
And dinna gang afar
For little, little dae you ken
The dangers o the war

I’ll cut off my yellow hair
And gang alang wi ye
And be your faithful comrade
In some foreign country
Stay at hame, my bonny lass
And dinna gang wi me
For little, little, dae you ken
The dangers o the sea

Farewell tae Cathkin’s bonny braes
Where aft times I hae been
And farewell tae the banks o Clyde
And bonny Glesca Green
Farewell my loving comrades
I own my heart is sair
Farewell, for aye, my bonny Jean
I’ll never see ye mair

Words:
Braes: hills
Cathkin’s braes: south of Glasgow. Cathkin Braes Park is near Castlemilk, Glasgow.
For aye: for ever
Glesca: Glasgow

Gordeanna McCulloch brought this song to Sangschule. The “Queen” wanting soldiers would be Victoria, giving us an approximate date.

Robert Ford says in Vagabond Songs and Ballads (1904), “Originally of the West, perhaps, we have a song here that will be immediately recognised as a common favourite all over rural Scotland, the custom being to make it apply to the nearest military town.”

It appears in The Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection in several versions in Volume 1, no.98. Greig’s early 20th century note from the Buchan Observer says:

 “This song evidently hails from the south-west, but it is known more or less all over the country. In many of the versions – Ford’s for instance – it is evident that dislocation has taken place. …(because of differences in the tune?)  Sung to its own delightful tune, ‘The bonnie lassie’s answer’ is one of the most engaging folk-songs that we have.”